Imaginary Friend Horror ‘Z’ Delivers Real Terror

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: A family finds themselves terrorised by their eight-year-old son’s imaginary friend.

Review: The above plotline has become a sub-genre of horror movies all on its own, with the granddaddy of them all possibly being Poltergeist. A kid has an “imaginary” best friend, something a lot of kids have growing up, but as strange stuff starts happening and people start having accidents — you know, the kind of accidents All State doesn’t cover? — that’s when someone usually realises there isn’t anything imaginary about Timmy’s new bestie.

Is this low fat milk? I thought we agreed to buy skimmed?

Most recently we had Come Play, which, while very entertaining, didn’t do much for me scare-wise. So I decided to catch up on a similar movie that came out the year before (2019) simply called Z. I’m glad I did too, because Z, unlike Come Play, definitely delivered on the terror.

Both movies are extremely similar in a lot of ways. They both focus on a kid who has trouble making friends, both have parents who should maybe pay closer attention to the things going on in and around their kids’ lives, and both “monsters” are terrifying in terms of design and movement. But where Z shines a bit brighter for me was in the way the monster was used. Less is always more and, unlike Come Play, you have no idea what Z (that’s what the creature calls himself) looks like until it’s revealed in what is arguably the most terrifying scene in the movie. From then on, it surprisingly gets even scarier. You would think once you’ve seen the monster the tension would let up, but due to a smart twist in the story introduced in the third act, writer/director Brandon Christensen manages to keep the thrills coming.

Looks like this mommy needs some time off. Maybe a spa day? A night out with the girls? You know. A little ‘me’ time

Unfortunately, while Z is more suspenseful and terrifying than Come Play, it doesn’t have the heart and well-developed characters found in that movie. One of the things that made Come Play successful was the likeable characters and the growth we see gained throughout by the main players. Z doesn’t have that, and instead we’re stuck with a very annoying child and a mother who seems smart and courageous on paper, but makes the kind of decisions that are ultimately foolish.

So which one of these “kid with imaginary friend” flicks comes out on top? If I lay it out, pros and cons style, I would say…dealer’s choice! If you want a movie that’s well-crafted, well-acted and not too heavy on the scares, go with Come Play. But if you’re like me, and you like your horror movies to be, well, horrific, go with Z.

Anyway you cut it, you’re sure to find something you’ll like.

Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10

For my review of Come Play you can click here. And for more than 170 horror film reviews and lists you can click here.

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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